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Synthetic biology
Training session on SBSTTA 26 substantive agenda items / 2 April 2024
Fanny Coppens, PhD
Sciensano
Belgian NFP for the Biosafety Clearing-House
1
(Not quite a) definition
Synthetic biology is the application of science, technology
and engineering to facilitate and accelerate the design,
manufacture and/or modification of genetic materials in living
organisms (EU Scientific Committees, 2014).
It involves redesigning organisms for useful purposes by engineering
them to have new abilities (NIH).
2
(Not quite a) definition
CBD (COP-13 in 2016) adopted an operational definition, as
a starting point for facilitating work under the Convention:
“Synthetic biology is a further development and new
dimension of modern biotechnology that combines
science, technology, and engineering to facilitate and
accelerate the understanding, design, redesign,
manufacture and/or modification of genetic materials,
living organisms and biological systems”
3
CBD Technical
Series 100
Synthetic Biology
www.cbd.int/ts
Published April 2022
Your image here
4
Supporting
technologies
and tools
● DNA synthesis
● Next-generation / whole-
genome sequencing
● Genome editing: CRISPR/Cas
● Engineered gene drives
● AI and machine learning
● Bio-bricks
● ...
5
Research areas ● DNA- and RNA-based circuits
● Protein engineering
● Metabolic pathway
engineering
● Genome-level engineering
● Protocell construction
● Xenobiology
● Cell-free systems
6
Applications ● Unmanaged or wild
● Semi-managed, managed or
urban
● Lab, industry
7
Applications ● Unmanaged or wild
● Semi-managed, managed or
urban
● Lab, industry
Wildlife conservation:
Gene drive control of invasive
species
Extinction prevention
De-extinction
8
Applications ● Unmanaged or wild
● Semi-managed,
managed or urban
● Lab, industry
GE plants: heat or drought
tolerant, better digestible,
disease resistant, herbicide
tolerant, decreased plant height
GE animals: hornless cattle,
woolly sheep, chickens laying
allergen-free eggs
9
Applications ● Unmanaged or wild
● Semi-managed,
managed or urban
● Lab, industry
Gene drive insects: reduction of
the population of plant pests or
vectors for diseases
Bioremediation: bacteria
containing sensors and proteins
that bind pollutants
10
Applications ● Unmanaged or wild
● Semi-managed, managed or
urban
● Lab, industry
Yeast with engineered metabolic
pathways producing
● medicines, vaccines
● cosmetics, dyes, fragrances
● wildlife products
● food and ingredients
11
Also in the
document:
Potential impacts
● Potential impacts on
conservation and sustainable
use of biodiversity
● Social, economic and cultural
concerns
● General biosafety aspects
12
Also in the
document:
Governance and
regulatory aspects
● Current regulations
● Self-regulation and moratoria
● IP considerations
● Potential implication of the
CBD and Protocols
● Other international processes
13
Thank you for your attention!
Fanny Coppens fanny.coppens@sciensano.be
Coming soon www.coop4cbd.eu Follow COOP4CBD
14

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Synthetic biology. Fanny Coppens, Sciensano.

  • 1. Views and opinions expressed are those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Commission. Neither the EU nor the EC can be held responsible for them. Synthetic biology Training session on SBSTTA 26 substantive agenda items / 2 April 2024 Fanny Coppens, PhD Sciensano Belgian NFP for the Biosafety Clearing-House 1
  • 2. (Not quite a) definition Synthetic biology is the application of science, technology and engineering to facilitate and accelerate the design, manufacture and/or modification of genetic materials in living organisms (EU Scientific Committees, 2014). It involves redesigning organisms for useful purposes by engineering them to have new abilities (NIH). 2
  • 3. (Not quite a) definition CBD (COP-13 in 2016) adopted an operational definition, as a starting point for facilitating work under the Convention: “Synthetic biology is a further development and new dimension of modern biotechnology that combines science, technology, and engineering to facilitate and accelerate the understanding, design, redesign, manufacture and/or modification of genetic materials, living organisms and biological systems” 3
  • 4. CBD Technical Series 100 Synthetic Biology www.cbd.int/ts Published April 2022 Your image here 4
  • 5. Supporting technologies and tools ● DNA synthesis ● Next-generation / whole- genome sequencing ● Genome editing: CRISPR/Cas ● Engineered gene drives ● AI and machine learning ● Bio-bricks ● ... 5
  • 6. Research areas ● DNA- and RNA-based circuits ● Protein engineering ● Metabolic pathway engineering ● Genome-level engineering ● Protocell construction ● Xenobiology ● Cell-free systems 6
  • 7. Applications ● Unmanaged or wild ● Semi-managed, managed or urban ● Lab, industry 7
  • 8. Applications ● Unmanaged or wild ● Semi-managed, managed or urban ● Lab, industry Wildlife conservation: Gene drive control of invasive species Extinction prevention De-extinction 8
  • 9. Applications ● Unmanaged or wild ● Semi-managed, managed or urban ● Lab, industry GE plants: heat or drought tolerant, better digestible, disease resistant, herbicide tolerant, decreased plant height GE animals: hornless cattle, woolly sheep, chickens laying allergen-free eggs 9
  • 10. Applications ● Unmanaged or wild ● Semi-managed, managed or urban ● Lab, industry Gene drive insects: reduction of the population of plant pests or vectors for diseases Bioremediation: bacteria containing sensors and proteins that bind pollutants 10
  • 11. Applications ● Unmanaged or wild ● Semi-managed, managed or urban ● Lab, industry Yeast with engineered metabolic pathways producing ● medicines, vaccines ● cosmetics, dyes, fragrances ● wildlife products ● food and ingredients 11
  • 12. Also in the document: Potential impacts ● Potential impacts on conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity ● Social, economic and cultural concerns ● General biosafety aspects 12
  • 13. Also in the document: Governance and regulatory aspects ● Current regulations ● Self-regulation and moratoria ● IP considerations ● Potential implication of the CBD and Protocols ● Other international processes 13
  • 14. Thank you for your attention! Fanny Coppens fanny.coppens@sciensano.be Coming soon www.coop4cbd.eu Follow COOP4CBD 14